Engaging Community Resilience for Security, Development, and Peacebuilding in Afghanistan

Throughout insecure areas of Afghanistan, some communities have protected themselves from violence while meeting their security and development needs. These are cases of “positive deviance” that offer examples of good practice for wider application.

With funding from the United States Institute of Peace and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, in July 2010 Future Generations Afghanistan and the Future Generations Graduate School began a collaborative action learning project to identify these resilient communities, learn from them, and apply findings to improve peacebuilding policy and practice.

In the view of many Afghans, the majority of international assistance efforts have been inefficient, wasteful, externally driven, and not locally accountable. The positive deviance approach illuminates strategies that fit local cultures and therefore avoids the pitfalls associated with externally conceived solutions.

With an emphasis on collaboration, a steering committee of Afghan public sector and nongovernmental organizations guides the project with training and technical support from Future Generations Afghanistan. These partners benefit from the learning process and ensure that project objectives and methodologies are widely shared.

Rather than contracting with outside researchers, Future Generations trains a team of Afghans nominated by steering committee partners. More than 20 staff from 10 organizations in Afghanistan will complete a course on social science research.

Research teams will then conduct surveys in communities that have been selected and screened through secondary data analysis and discussions with project partners. Communities that share their experiences and strategies with the project during the research phase will have the opportunity to share their stories with other communities.

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